Season’s greetings! The most wonderful time of the year is here, or – if you prefer the warm weather months like me – at least, the most festive! My favorite part of Christmas is making memories, so I love to attend various Christmas events, and this year I am so thrilled there are several new Christmas festivals in central Indiana. Now, how to find time to check them all off my list?
2017 marks the first year for the Carmel Christkindlmarkt, which is open Wednesday through Sunday from now until December 24. There is no admission charge and parking is free too. It’s located next to the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana.
Christkindlmarkt is the German word for a traditional outdoor Christmas market, and translates literally as “Christ child market.” Christmas markets celebrate holiday food, drinks, gifts, and decorations during the four weeks of Advent. Various regions of Germany are well-known for their hand-crafted Christmas decorations and woodworking, and are popular throughout Germany. They date back to around 1310. In the U.S., Chicago’s Christkindlmarkt is one of the nation’s oldest and largest German holiday markets. To find a market in your state, check out this list. I love all things vintage when it comes to Christmas, so old-school Christmas decorations are a personal favorite of mine. I also have German heritage, studied German, and spent a month in Germany thanks to a summer study scholarship. So I had to check out the new Carmel Christkindlmarkt festival this year!
All of the vendors at the market sell either products from Germany or German-inspired items. I thought this was really cool, because I expected only a few German products to be available. It definitely felt like an authentic German market, and it was laid out very well, with two rows of wood stalls selling wares on either side of a big ice skating rink, and a stage at one end where local musicians and alphorn players perform.
On Saturdays there is trolley that will take you to more shopping along several stops at the Carmel Arts & Design District and Carmel City Center. My mom and I decided next year we are going during the day before the food sells out and are going to ride the trolley to make a whole day of it – and then I can have a set of daytime photos to go with my night snaps. But we are glad we saw the market at night. It was magical!
A highlight for me was watching the ice skaters. There are heaters, fire pits, benches and chairs along the side of the ice rink, and it’s quite warm and cozy to gather around the ice with a cup of hot Glühwein and watch them skate.
I’ve always wanted to try Glühwein, so I bought a cup of it. Glühwein, which translates literally as glow wine, is a German mulled wine served at Christmas markets. It’s served hot and is a red wine combined with spices, citrus fruit, vanilla and sugar. The Indiana winery Winzerwald Winery makes and sells the Glühwein at the Carmel Christkindlmarkt. The adorable $5 collectible Glühwein boot mugs sold out the same day I attended. I’m determined to get one next year.
Another highlight of the market for me was – the actual market! There were forty vendors, many of them selling handmade Christmas decorations from Germany, including nutcrackers, candle pyramids, trains, wood-turned incense smokers, Moravian stars, wood angels, music boxes, nativities and ornaments. I loved learning about the decorative candle arches, because I never knew the story behind them. The German name for them is Schwibbogen and early arches were forged from a single piece of black ore in the mountainous region of Saxony, Germany. The candle holder was always associated with Christmas, with the light symbolizing the hope for the miners who didn’t see daylight in winter for weeks at a time due to their long working hours below ground. Now, most of the arches are intricately carved from wood.
Check out the official website of the Carmel Christkindlmarkt for more details and a complete schedule. If you’re in central Indiana, I recommend attending! If you live close by and have time, plan a trip during the day so you can have your pick of the German food offerings like pretzels and cheesy raclette before they sell out at night, and plan a trip at night to see the lights. Or go in the early evening so you can experience both! What Christmas festivals are your favorite in your area? Comment below!
Oh the weather outside is frightful! Greetings from Indiana on a snowy and icy day…